Sunday, September 27, 2015

Invited to refocus my journey....

"Finally, dear brothers, as I come to the end of this letter, I ask you to pray for us. Pray first that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and triumph wherever it goes, winning converts everywhere as it did when it came to you. Pray, too, that we will be saved out of the clutches of evil men, for not everyone loves the Lord.  But the Lord is faithful; He will make you strong and guard you from satanic attacks of every kind. And we trust the Lord that you are putting into practice the things we taught you, and that you always will. May the Lord bring you into an ever deeper understanding of the love of God and of the patience that comes from Christ."  2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (The Living Bible)

In God's amazing loving kindness, He compassionately reached out to me over the past few weeks - and, especially this past week - to gently share with me that while I've been doing "good" for many months, was that good GOD or just earthly good?  Whoa.

So now, I've begun letting go of things outside of home and I'm spending more time in prayer. This morning, I awoke at the end of a vivid dream and felt I should record it, for it was so powerful.  Upon finding an empty journal in the office (digging it out of a box of my things that have been packed away since we moved from our Burien house and catching the large spider in the box and releasing her outside), I was lead to the scripture above.  This passage contains so much content, wisdom and guidance.  God's Word is so amazingly living and active!  Rejoicing and giving thanks that God has spoken specifically to me.  I will continue to spend focused time with God in the coming days, weeks and months that He may fully reveal His wisdom, His path and His will for my life.

Autumn has arrived and as this year's garden season winds down, I am overwhelmed with excitement to receive this incredible invitation from our precious Lord to come and sit with Him, grab a cup of hot tea, curl up on the couch, and BE with Him in the season ahead as He and I converse together, search His Word and sometimes just sit quietly with each other.  He's got exciting, amazing, wonderful, adventurous,  life-giving lessons to teach me.  And, I praise Him afresh for I am eager to learn...  

Here I am, Lord, teach me.  I need Your Truth, Love and Grace anew.  I have much to learn still on this journey here on earth. I need to be equipped for this season and all the seasons ahead.  I need to be equipped to do the work that You have for me to do, Lord.  I need to be ready to love those You want me to love.  To be ready to share my life with those You want me to share with. To be ready to receive what you will have others give to me.  To be sensitive to Your leading.  To bloom wherever You plant me... In Jesus' precious Name ~ Amen

And, as I am embarking on this journey with our amazing Lord, I'd like to invite you, dear reader, to ask God if He is extending a similar invitation to you this season.  Or perhaps He already has. You will be so blessed in accepting and joining Him for the adventure that awaits you!

May the Lord bless you and keep you and provide for your every need!  

God is good.  All the time.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Lent journey: GO

Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.
I Corinthians 3:5-9 (The Message)

Personal reflections:  Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19 tell us to GO into the world...  God has work for us to do.  This will look different for all of us.  Maybe you will be the next generation of a family doing what the family has always done (ie. farming) or maybe you will get married and raise your children in the same community you grew up in and your children will attend the same elementary, junior high and high school as their parents or maybe you will be one of our brave and honorable military men and women (with the possibility of sacrificing your life for our continued freedom), maybe you'll become a pastor or a priest and will devote your whole life to serving God or maybe you'll become a missionary and take God's Word to those who haven't heard it or maybe, like me, God will ask you to live a nomadic life; going to the place He shows you to go....  We all have places in the world God wants us to GO to.  He has given each of us specific gifts and talents and if we allow Him, He will work in and through our lives blessing and loving people as we journey on this earth, for God first loved us - enabling us to love others around us.  

For me, it's easy to fall into old patterns - I'm the one doing the work, the one who wants to belong to a community of people and the one who wants to be "rooted" to a piece of land for the rest of my life - Me!  There is the problem.  BUT today, I am one who is awaking from what feels like a long slumber.....and seeing God as my focus, once again.  God has shown me through this Lenten photographic journey for 2015, He is fanning the embers back into a flame within my spirit and He has work for me to do.  Instead of focusing on what I want, He is showing me, again, that He desires to work through me to reach others - with Truth and Love; to be a vessel for His blessings to flow through.  I know there will be days when I get tripped up again (and again and likely again), but my hope and prayer is that my eyes, my heart, and my soul will be fully tuned into what God desires.  May He be my daily priority.  

I am giving thanks, anew, today for the blessing of this place that we currently live in, for this community of beautiful people, for the opportunity to have a garden and to learn and grow continually....  May I serve You well here, Lord, and be blessed to bless others.

God is so very good and I am blessed more than I could ask or imagine.  Joy overflowing!  

Thank you, Lord, for loving me, healing me and blessing me to be Your servant.  Thank you for new eyes to see you more clearly.  I am indeed blessed to be Your child and honored to do Your work. 

He is Risen.  He is Risen indeed.  Easter blessings today and in all your days ahead!

Lent journey: REFUGE

He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings, you will find refuge; 
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

Personal reflections:  When looking around in nature; observing, I see God's Word come alive more and more through His Creation.  Examples abound for us all to see.  There is something so endearing, so loving and comforting; a story told through this picture that makes me desire the same type of experience.....and this verse expresses God's invitation/promise for those who make Him their dwelling place; His love for us.

Psalm 91 is a psalm that Blaine and I pray; a psalm of protection in this world.  I can imagine massive angel-like wings that our Heavenly Father opens for His children to run under where we are safe and secure in His refuge.  And yet, those "wings" can wrap around just me in a way that I know and feel God's love, specifically for me, and I am safe in His loving arms.  Such great comfort in knowing this about my Heavenly Father!  Oh, how I love Him.  And I know, He loves me...

I encourage to read Psalm 91 for yourself and hear what the Lord tells us all.  

The photo below is artwork created for Psalm 91 and is available from an artist through  The picture is a link to that particular etsy shop - you can click on it. (I don't know the artist, but thought this was an interesting display of most of this psalm - and it can be personalized for a specific person too).

Praying we all live the reality of who God is.  Blessings to you and yours.  May you allow God to work through your life to bless others, even today.

Lent journey: PROSPER

Then the Lord Your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land.  The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as He delighted in your fathers, if you obey the Lord your God and keep His commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deuteronomy 30:9-10

Personal reflections:  Powerful words....  A powerful promise!  

When you read the words above, it's pretty simple.  Really, it is.  

If it's simple, why is it so difficult for me to live these words out when I know what blessing God will bring to my life in doing so?  

All I've got to do is..........  

"Turn to the Lord Your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul."  

Why can't I just do this?  Why do I struggle and fall short of doing what the Lord asks of me?  How do I live on the earth daily, but commit ALL of my heart and my soul to the Lord?  Plenty of people appear to be able to do this, but............

The good news is the Lord knows my struggles.  He knows my weaknesses.  He knows my heart.  He knows every fiber of my being and He loves me.  Oh, how He loves me.  And, in the course of this messy life I live, He does bless the work of my hands and all the rest in the verses above - but there is still heartache, loss, disappointment at times; even when it seems these things are stronger than joy, victory and prosperity. 

Lately though, God is revealing to me that what may need adjustment in my life is my VISION; how I'm looking at my life, my journey and the world around me.  Perhaps I'm seeing a blurrier view of my life and journey and it's clear to God.  Maybe I'm focusing on certain things (negatives) instead of the others that are there too (positives).  So thankful a blog friend of mine stopped by to visit my blog today and left good words to chew on in my BREATH post.  Cleaning my glasses and removing the veil in front of my eyes may be just what I needed, as I continue to turn to the Lord my God with ALL my heart and with ALL my soul.  I am likely to see something very different indeed!

Blessings to you, dear reader...  May you know the joy of the Lord, who is your strength.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lent journey: BREATH

Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you!  As the Father sent me, I Am sending you."  And with that He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
John 20:21-22 (NIV)

Personal reflections:  This morning, our wonderful and gracious Lord opened my eyes to see that He comes right in the midst of our chaos; the messiness of our lives...  He doesn't wait until we have everything in order; the kitchen cleaned, floors mopped, bed made, laundry done, never missing reading our Bible on a daily basis, always remembering to spend time in prayer, praying for our neighbors (that we may like or not), praying for our nation, blessing others, spending time with a friend or loved one, helping someone with their need (even when we have our own), driving a distance just to say hello to a friend or family member, remembering to send a birthday greeting that arrives on time, making a special treat for someone (because you can).... I know you get the picture.  How I fail at every one of these things and more ~ regularly!  If Jesus waited to bless me with peace and the Holy Spirit in my life until I was "totally prepared and had it all together," it would never happen in my lifetime. 

On a personal note, I have been really struggling lately!  Really struggling!  I am so very thankful that God has blessed us with our current rental home and its location.  It is truly a blessing to both Blaine and I.  The one thing missing is being able to "build" Joy Bell Farm; our dream.  Yes, we can grow fruits and vegetables, etc at our rental location - but not as we envision it (biodynamic, value-added products) as it's not our place to do so here (but perhaps God will show us how to).  Yes, we are working on clearing space for a garden.  As of now, it doesn't appear that it will be as large as we envisioned for this year.  Clearing is happening at a very slow pace.  The soil here is very dense and mineral rich (a blessing and a challenge - and oh, so many rocks), but as soon as rain hits it, it's like sticky goo and one can't work in it...., but God already knew that, didn't He?  And, I had hoped to have chickens this spring - but it's not going to happen.  Why not?  We're still living out the challenges/consequences of our past.  While we've worked through alot of the relationship issues, challenges and wounds from the past 6 years, we have one big weight that holds us down.....finances.  We have debt, which really began in 1999/2000 when I became ill (we've had lots of out-of-pocket expenses since that time), we chose to assist Benjamin with his undergrad education (and took on part of his school debt), and we are still dealing with paying off our foreclosure settlement (repaying our retirement fund).  And, we'll need to save for a down payment to purchase our own farm - if that opportunity should come to us.  Most days I wonder..... will Joy Bell Farm ever be a possibility in our lifetime or will it always be a "dream" we hope for?  Will it always remain out-of-reach?  Our focus is paying off our financial debt and until that time, while we'd love for a farm agreement/arrangement to come into our lives, our hands are tied.  Our only hope is God's provision.  Is it His plan for our lives? If yes, He will make it happen.  

Now, I am not seeking pity from anyone.  We ALL have stories.  We ALL have challenges in our lives.  Thus far, there is not one person I've met who doesn't have a story that affects them.  And, even as I wrestle with our story - God's Word comes to encourage and reassure that He is right there in the midst of our story and our daily life!  When I took the photograph for today and then found the scripture and words began pouring into my thoughts of what my heart is feeling, I thought to myself, "I really don't want to share what is on my heart this morning, but it is real.  It's my raw feelings.  It's my personal experience where our life is right now.  It's what I wrestle with daily in my faith journey."  Moments later, I cried out aloud, overwhelmed, when today's God Calling devotional came onto my computer screen. After reading the devotional (see below), a few words from an old song fill my head (and I search and find it ~ and I remember God's anointing on this particular album.....and tears come.....).  The Lord's presence washes over me, my heart rejoices as I know my Lord is near to me and hears my cry and a peace settles over me ~ for I know I am His child and He loves me and is with me in this crazy wonderful, painful, joyous adventure called life.

And I end this morning sharing with you by singing a powerful praise song...

Like a mighty rushing wind, move me.
Like a river of joy, flow through me.
Like a hot burning fire, consume us, Lord.
Touch us and make us like You. 

May our amazing and loving Lord make Himself known to you today with a fresh revelation of who He is; His love and grace abounding to you.  And in His words, "Peace be with you!"

From God Calling Devotional:

April 2 - The Priceless Blessing
I am here. Here is truly as I was with My Disciples of old. Here to help and bless you. Here to company with you. Do you know, even yet, My children, that this is the priceless blessing of your lives? I forgive you, as you have prayed Me to, for all neglects of My commands, but start anew from today.
Study My words and carry them out unflinchingly, unflinching. As you do this, you will find that you are miracle-workers, workers together with Me -- for Me. Remember this, not what you do, but what you are -- that is the miracle-working power.
Changed by My Spirit, shedding one garment of Spirit for a better; in time throwing that aside for a yet finer one, and so on from character to character, gradually transformed into My likeness.
Joy, Joy, Joy.

This morning, I lift my hands, praise God and declare I love Him - once more!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lent journey: PEACE

I Am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don't be troubled or afraid.  John 14:27 (NLT)

Personal reflection:  I have a very sensitive heart.  I think I always have.  My heart is easily wounded by the words and actions of others.  It's possible that others think I overly or unreasonably react to things. I'm certain I do according to them.  I've come to understand that this is how I was made.  It's in the fabric of my being.  I need to remind myself to run and hide in my Heavenly Father's arm for He knows me and loves me just as I am ~ and to embrace the Truth of His Word.  

Recent events in the world have troubled my mind and my heart, but today I was reminded by our friend, Richard, in his post Steps to Peace - Jesus' style (Part 1) that Jesus has shown me the way.  All I need to do is walk in it.  I don't have to worry about anything.  I don't have to be afraid.  I can live in the gift Jesus gave - peace of mind and heart.  It seems our world becomes more complex daily, but nothing surprises Jesus and He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us; right in the midst of it all.  Today.  I choose PEACE.

And, one of my favorite Chris Tomlin songs that reminds me I have no one to fear.  May You, dear reader, experience His peace that is greater than any promise of peace this world has to offer.

Lent journey: CALL

This is God's Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God:  "Call to me and I will answer you.  I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own."  Jeremiah 33:2-3 (The Message)

Personal reflection:  I find it completely and utterly amazing that the God of the universe, my Heavenly Father, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords invites me (it's for you and everyone else, as well) to call to Him and He will answer us.  It's a promise and He will reveal, share, help us discover things that I could not do on my own.  When I think of ALL life in its entirety and I'm a little tiny speck, the love He has for me is overwhelming that He cares so much for me and that He wants to share marvelous and wondrous things..... with me. He is truly an awesome God!

I think I've shared the words to a heart song the Holy Spirit inspired in me, but I feel compelled to share again with this post:

I stand amazed. 
I stand amazed.
This life, Your Love...
It abounds.

I stand amazed.
I stand amazed.
The beauty....
The sights....
The sounds....

I stand amazed, oh...
I stand amazed.
Your Creation, for us,
So profound.

I stand amazed.
I stand amazed.
I stand amazed.
I stand amazed.....  

Lent journey: LIVE

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you.
He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.
He never sinned nor deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when insulted nor threaten revenge when He suffered.
He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  By His wounds you are healed.
Once you were like sheep who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.  
1 Peter 2:21-25 (NLT)

Personal reflection:  When left to my own devises, I do have a tendency to wander - just as sheep do.  Oh, how I need my Shepherd!

Reading the passage again and again, I realize these verses are not only difficult to hear, but also nearly impossible to live out in my own human experience.  In fact, I can't do it on my own.  I need my Savior and the help of the Holy Spirit to do my best to live as God has called me to. 

These verses reveal several areas of my life where I find it challenging to be obedient and trust Him; sometimes without even realizing what I'm doing.  Why is it that the things God wants me to do, the opposite is "second nature" for me?  And those words, "live for what is right..."  How I wish God would write me a personal note, call me on the phone or send me an e-mail or text message, so I knew exactly what those words mean to Him.  In my humanness, I stumble about trying to determine what is right (biblically) while the world is shouting really loudly about what "they" say is right.  Lord, help me please!

These verses end with a wonderful reassurance....  I have chosen to turn to my Shepherd and He is the Guardian of my soul.  And, because of Jesus, I am healed!  Our God blesses us with an amazing HOPE that even as we struggle along our journey, He is with us to help us fully LIVE.

And, once again, I lift my hands toward heaven and sing out:

Lent journey: CELEBRATE

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
Psalm 118:24 (NASB)

Personal reflection:  Rejoicing in the gift of a beautiful day of life and living!  Fresh air to breath and the beauty of God's Creation all around us.  What a truly wonderful gift!

Lent journey: SEE

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  
See, I Am doing a new thing!  
Now it spring up; do you not perceive it?  
Am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.  
Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

Personal reflection:  Do I see?  What do I see?  Am I seeing anything? 

Definition of "see" ~ perceive with the eyes; discern visually.

How quickly I fall into "the past," just as the nation of Israel did in Exodus (when God delivered them from oppression/slavery in Egypt).  Why is it that I find this so easy to do, when I know God delivers us from places, situations, or people that He no longer desires us to be connected with?  Now, in this case, I'm talking specifically about our home and urban farm in Burien...  There are countless days when I long to go back, to have our urban farm, my chickens, our home and the life we lived there; practically begging God to restore us there.  But, when I have gone back to the place, I know I don't belong there. I don't want to live in that particular place (though I'd like to have some of my old neighbors as neighbors again).  It's just that when where we are today isn't exactly what we hoped for or what we thought was going to be or the journey is difficult - I have a tendency to want to "go back."  It seems like it's human nature for alot of people.  For me, Burien is the place I have lived the longest in one place; possibly my whole entire life!  7 years.  I understand why that particular place seems to have a pull on me.  And yet, I know I can't go back.  I don't really want to go back.  And with this verse, God is reminding me, again, that He is doing something new.  Stop dwelling on what has been lost; on what is no more.  It is time to focus on God and what He is doing here and now and that is super exciting!  I want to go forward......with God......and be in the midst of whatever He is at work doing.  I believe He is doing something new, even as I can't quite focus and see what it is yet.  And now, I'm watching for it!  

God is good. All the time!   

Lent journey: MEDITATE

How well God must like you - 
you don't hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don't slink along Dead-End Raod,
you don't go to Smart-Mouth College.

Instead you thrill to God's Word, 
you chew (meditate) on Scripture day and night.
You're a tree replanted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month, 
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.

You're not at all like the wicked,
who are mere windblown dust -
Without defense in court,
unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take,.
The road they take is Skid Row.

Psalm 1 (The Message)

Personal reflection:  This is my spiritual life passage.  The Psalm speaks life and guidance to me.  And in reading it again today, it makes me feel alive and also gently and lovingly reminds me that I need to get back to being "thrilled" or "delighted" (NIV) in God's Word daily.  While I do focus on God's Word often, the Lord has revealed to me that I am not meditating upon it as He would desire I do.  So thankful, again, for this Lenten journey and all our amazing Lord is sharing with me.

Along my spiritual journey, I've messed up plenty of times.  So glad God doesn't keep score.  But, His Word reminds me of all I am through Christ and as His child. That is wonderful news, indeed! 

And from my Christian Growth Study Bible - a study excerpt about verses 1-3...

Secret of an abundant life:

George Mueller began a ministry that rescued hundreds of starving orphans from death in the slums of England.  As important as his role was in showing these needy children the love of their heavenly Father, the ministry was never Mueller's first priority.  He believed God's highest call on his life was for intimate relationship with Him.  God had shown him that the way to have this was through daily Bible meditation.

The concept of meditation comes from a Latin word that describes a cow chewing the cud.  The grass is eaten, chewed, swallowed, regurgitated, chewed some more and swallowed again.  The process is repeated until the food is fully digested.  Mueller said, "God showed me that I should go to His Word to chew on it early in the morning.  This is not something I do for my ministry, but something for me personally, that I would be nourished."

History testifies to the tremendous impact this meditation had on his life and ministry.  Imagine what God could accomplish through each of us if we started each day by meditating on the Word!

George Mueller's faith life has also had a great impact on my own spiritual journey...

Lent journey: SEEK

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."  Matthew 7:7-8

Personal reflection:  Determined to finished this Lenten photo journey, but being way behind....., it's time to push through; asking my amazing Lord to show me the way.  Thank You, Holy Spirit, for hanging out with me today and giving me wisdom to get "caught up!"

I fully believe these verses and live them out, I think, every day!  There are things I have been asking, seeking and knocking on doors for years and believe, in God's timing and according to His will for my life - they WILL happen!  I think the biggest failure or disappointment with these verses is that, from a human perspective, we think what we're asking, seeking and knocking should have an immediate answer/provision.  But, God works on His time clock, not ours.  And, we cannot understand everything nor know the whys and why nots - because God alone knows the whole story and is the only One who sees the whole picture...  Even as I/we wait, we continually praise Him!  

And yes, Blaine and I continue to do these things, through prayer, for our 'hoped for' Joy Bell Farm.  How we pray and seek God's provision to take what was an urban farm and bless us with a permanent farm location in Enumclaw (biodynamic, farm stay, JB's Kitchen) for His glory and purpose in our lives.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to make a Green Smoothie

Was so excited when I saw this post by Ali at Whole Life Nutrition today, that I just had to share it for others to enjoy too.  Just click on the photo and it will take you to their site.  ENJOY!

Lent journey: TRUTH

"I Am the true grapevine, and My Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of Mine that doesn't produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in Me, and I will remain in you.  For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me."
John 15:1-4

Personal reflection:  This is one of the ways I "make the connection" to Jesus and God the Father, in my life.  My faith connection is most often 'rooted' in Creation and I can so relate with verses, such as these above.  It makes sense.  And, it really makes sense after taking a hands-on grape pruning workshop in February.  

Grapes in Western Washington are popular to grow, but they do need some special care.  The picture above is the rough pruning cut - removing all other branches, except for the best 4 options for this year's grape crop.  Final winter pruning determines which 2 are the best choices for this year's production.  As the main life force in the grape plant comes from its trunk (or vine), those branches that are healthy and closest to the source of life/its vitality will likely produce the most fruit. A branch is chosen and wrapped around the fruiting wire in each direction, secured, and the other branches are removed.  

For best harvest, only 2 healthiest branches connected to the original vine remain!

And while the plants will put on a huge amount of growth (and have to be topped during the growing season), the fruiting only occurs at this knee high fruiting wire; needing to be close to the life source and while receiving radiant warmth from the living soil.  Our temps in Western Washington are not warm enough for fruiting to occur farther away from this source.

Now, these plants grow quite large during the season and if one left on all the branches that grew - healthy and not-so-healthy - grape production would be greatly reduced in the following season with the possibility of no production size fruit in a season or so to follow...  God's desire is for each of us to bear abundant fruit in our lives.

And yet, to wire these branches to the fruiting wire, we had to slightly bend the branches we were wrapping on the wire and each bend produced cracking in the branch "skin" (the branch was no longer smooth, but "roughed up" a little in the process). A reminder to me that this journey; this life isn't going to be easy.  To bear fruit, our lives must handle the pruning God brings to our lives.  We're not going to look fine china,  but instead, we will have some bruising; even battle scars.  Yet, we will bear more fruit, we will be fruitful, if we remain connected in the vine of Christ.  

God never promised it would be an easy life - and many times I have wanted to give up - but God's Truth never fails me and His faithfulness never ends. His mercies are new every morning....  His love endures forever.  And those, are solid reasons for me to remain connected to the vine of Christ, growing in His Truth - my life source for every day and a lifetime.  I may look old and gnarly one day from all His pruning, but I pray my life bears fruit until He calls me home.

Lent journey: MERCY

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

Definition of mercy:  compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.

From my Christian Growth Study Bible's How to Read Lamentations, an excerpt:

If you've ever suffered a significant loss, Lamentations can help bring healing and restoration.  It's a beautiful, though sober book describing the pain of a people stripped of everything but their hope in God.  It's filled wit crushing emotions; anger, desperation, fear, loneliness, hopelessness.  But in reading Lamentations, those who have been wounded may feel strangely understood and comforted.  

Personal reflection:  Is this not the most amazing news?!  How can we not begin each new day praising God and rejoicing in who He is when He has shared this Truth with us?!  Sometimes, it's really hard to wrap my head around this Truth.  If God would do this for us, it should teach us, each one, to show mercy toward others?  As we live in His faithfulness each day of this life, should we not also be faithful to Him?  

As I pondered this word mercy and God's faithfulness to us, I discovered Sara Groves and her beautiful song, He's Always Been Faithful.  I pray mercy and faithfulness grows in me daily and that it overflows from my life into the lives of others who cross my path along this journey....  God is good.  All the time.  Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and faithfulness!

Lent journey: FORGIVE kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

Personal reflections:  I'd really rather not share what's on my heart.  Not that this post will contain some big confession or anything, it's just that I'd rather keep my struggle to myself.  However, this Lent journey is not about me ~ it's about Christ and what He is teaching me through this practice.  I don't want to waste anymore time being stuck in my life, so here goes... baby steps...

This is a very difficult word for me to address...  Being hurt by countless people in my lifetime, when I became a believer (accepted Jesus as my Savior), I had a really difficult time learning this biblical concept as I usually wanted (and sometimes want) justice.  People who have done wrong to me or others should be held accountable; have to pay a price.  Right?  As my years have gone on, I have learned and experienced that when someone hurts me there may be more to the story or I don't understand all the components involved in the situation, there is evil in this world and, finally, God alone is the only one who knows all the details; the whole story.  I am to leave vengeance to God and because He has forgiven me through Christ, so must I forgive others.  Afterall, do I want to be held accountable for everything I have done wrong too, whether I was intentional about my words and actions or not?  Therefore, forgiving others has become much easier for me, especially in the past few years.

BUT, there is one person that I struggle greatly in forgiving:  MYSELF!  I remind myself that  if my sins are forgiven (and forgotten) through Christ, why am I still hanging onto them?  Why do I continually beat myself up over what is done?  Why can't I just "let it go?"  

Sometimes the environment we grow up in has "behavioral expectations" that we can't meet.  There are people 'wired' differently than most who choose an evil path and allow themselves to be consumed for the 'sense of power' it gives them.  Some people hear that they are "stupid and a failure" and they can't get past that, so when things do go wrong - whether in their control or beyond their human control - they blame themselves for the bad stuff that happens.  Others are broken and hurting themselves and they see the world with skewed vision.  Longing for love, desperate to be heard, hopelessness...  I could go on, but I think you get the idea of what I am sharing.  I am not placing blame on anyone for anything that has occurred in my life, for as I grow older, I realize there is "more to the story" in each of our lives than what we see on the surface.  It's no different for me either - the majority of people who know me, only know me on the surface.  We are all broken and hurting in some way (even if we don't admit it) and it is Christ alone who is ABLE to heal every one of us, if we let Him.  

There is much I don't forgive myself for.... things, people, choices and events in my life, to name a few broad topics.  This is about me and my journey; my issues - not others.  I am learning to let go of pain from wounds I received at the hands of others; forgiving them.  I am taking baby steps in letting go of the things I don't forgive myself for, as my Savior has already forgiven my sins (that I have confessed to Him).   Some of my sins may have consequences that I must deal with, even though I am forgiven.   And I am believing that others I have hurt in my lifetime that I may not realize, God is able to exceedingly, abundantly more than I can ask or imagine ~ bless them, heal them and provide for their every need... He is truly an amazing God.

When I fully embrace who I am in Christ, I can LET IT GO!  And then, I will truly walk in forgiveness for others and myself. I am free to be the child of God He created me to be!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lent journey: CELEBRATE

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.  Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."  

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.  Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.  He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.  Psalm 126

Personal reflections:  This Lent season has been an amazing journey, thus far, and I celebrate who our awesome Lord is today!  I began this Sunday reading today's devotional from God Calling:

A Bud opened

To Me, your intimate Friend, all Power is given.  It is given Me of My Father, and have not My intimate friends a right to ask it?

You cannot have a need I cannot supply.  A flower or one thousand pounds (or dollars) - one is no more difficult than the other.

Your need is a spiritual need to carry on My work.  All spiritual supply is fashioned from Love.  The flower and the thousand pounds - both fashioned from Love to those who need it.  Do you not see this?

I thought of you, a bud opened, you converted that into a cheer for one you love or a smile.  That cheer meant increased health.  Increased health means work for Me, and that means souls for Me.

And so it goes on, a constant supply, but only if the need is a spiritual one.

Blaine and I talked about this devotional for some time at breakfast and we both determined we each have what we believe is a "spiritual need" in our lives; needing Jesus' healing power to continue on in the spiritual work that our Lord has for our lives on this earth.  We spent time in prayer lifting our needs to Jesus.  We are continuing to pray. We believe our Lord is able and will provide for our spiritual needs; each one.  And, we are reminded again of Psalm 126:3 (which not only represents who we know God to be, but also the verse that is Joy Bell Farm for us).  God is our Provider.  We believe we will see His provision and be able to give testimony to others; declaring it among the nations.  

A powerful, powerful devotional today.  It's not only for us, but also for you.  Seek after the Lord with all your heart and He will faithfully show you what holds you back; desiring to supply for that spiritual need...  God is good.  All the time.  Even today, we are filled with JOY!

My hope is you will take a couple minutes to watch this beautiful video by Louie Schwartzberg and see the beauty God created in each of these flowers and may it be revealed to you that He wants the same for your life; enabling you to share His love with others.  

Abundant blessings upon you today.  You are loved.

Lent journey: STILL

You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by Your power, having armed Yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.  Those living far away fear Your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades You call forth songs of joy.  
Psalm 65:5-8

Personal reflections:  I stand in awe of the great power of our God and the beauty of His Creation all around me.  I've walked the beach many times in my life and each time I approach, whether walking up and over a sand dune or driving through one, I am leaning in and listening for that familiar sound....the roar of waves crashing onto the beach; hitting the beige gray sand.  I know the strength of the water's power; feel its undertow that pulls the sand out from under my bare feet...  Feel the mist, as water droplets are sent flying when water meets sand.  The ocean; the sea must be respected by all who enter into it for its power can overwhelm a mighty ship when it's angry during a storm.  Even on a calm day, dangers exist and its beauty quickly catches people off-guard.  Yet, the scriptures tell us that God's power is far greater; far greater indeed!  He can "still" the roaring of the seas.  Indeed, nothing can overtake God's power.  And, His great power causes His children to sing for joy...

This Psalm goes on to share more of who God is in verses 9-13:

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly.  The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so You have ordained it.  You drench its furrows and level its ridges; You soften it with showers and bless its crops.  You crown the year with Your bounty, and Your carts overflow with abundance.  The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.  The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled wit grain; they should for joy and sing.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lent journey: PLACE

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT)

Personal reflections:  Blaine and I live a semi-nomadic life with Christ.  We once had a pastor tell us that our life was similar to Abraham's in that God "showed us where to go and we would go."  

As a child, I grew up in the Air Force.  Every 2-3 years (it seemed), my Dad would get 'orders' to go to a new base and we would move again and again....  England, Tacoma (WA), Sacramento (CA), Fairbanks (AK),  Goldsboro (NC), Spokane (WA), Tucson (AZ), Fairchild (WA) and finally retiring in the Spokane Valley, (WA). 

I was determined not to live that lifestyle while raising children and decided I would not marry someone who was in the military.  Blaine definitely did not want to go into the military.  I was safe!  Yet, as an adult, Blaine and I ended up continuing the same pattern (just all in WA state); and with him mostly working for the same company! Spokane Valley, Federal Way, Crown Hill, between homes for several months, Crown Hill, Lynnwood, Bothell, Marysville, Burien, Greenwood/Phinney, and now.... Enumclaw.  I don't know how many times I searched (and continue searching) for "our farm" without ever being able to secure a place....  In high school, I told Blaine that I wanted to "run away and live off the land."  I wanted a place to be rooted and stay for many seasons ~ you know ~ generations of our family establishing in a place; being active members in a community.  The children grew up and are now scattered across the U.S. with two in the midwest and one remaining in Seattle.  But then, we did commit then to God from birth and prayed that He would enable them to spread their wings and fly for His glory and purpose for their lives.  And, I have prayed over and over, "Here I am, Lord.  Take and use me.  Where You go, Lord, I will follow."  You'd think I'd learn by now....  And, I have prayed for years and years and years for 'our farm.'  Our urban farm in Burien (for 7 years) is the closest we've come to reaching our dream.  Oh, to have a PLACE to call home; permanently.

Just this week, God reminded me of my calling:  Encouraging others!  Yes, Lord, I know - but my passion is farming; specifically biodynamic farming and wanting to share Joy Bell Farm with others.  That is my heart's desire!  And, You bless us so that we may bless others.  Right?!

Yesterday afternoon, Blaine and I talked outside in the area where the new garden is to be established.  While talking, I said that I realize my calling in this life is to 'encourage others,' but my personal passion/heart's desire is farming.  What God has created me to do though, is ENCOURAGE.  So, I've asked God's forgiveness in being distracted for so many years chasing a dream instead of making Him my #1 priority and focusing on my gift/calling.  Now, I realize what an incredible blessing it would be for God to provide Joy Bell Farm for us ~ but more importantly I desire to do His will for my life and be available to ENCOURAGE others whenever He desires me to do so, for He leads me to people, to places ~ with what I need to say or share or bless others with.  And, I am so thankful for the privilege of doing so, as He works through me and my life.

Today, I am taking the first step in walking a new path; the path of encouragement.  There have been so many times over the years when I have told God I don't want to encourage others, that I need encouragement too and that I'm worn out and tired and just done with it all.  But, even when I don't want to share encouragement, it just flows through me and I am compelled to share with others.  Now, I am finally fully embracing it and giving thanks to God for His amazing grace and patience with me.  I say anew, "Here I am, Lord.  Take and use me."  Be glorified today, Lord.  Blaine and I will continue to live our "Joy Bell Farm" lifestyle, but will not actively search for property moving forward.  If it is to be, God will bring the farm to us - if not, we will make wherever we are our Joy Bell Farm; even if it only is alive in our hearts.  It's not that we are giving up our dream, because we're not.  We are choosing to focus on God's calling for our lives for we have much to learn still!

Blaine and I may stay in Enumclaw the rest of our lives or God may move us on to a new place when He is finished working through me/us here.  I am so thankful for the beauty of this place where we live right now.  And, I'm thankful for the ways in which God is also showing us and enabling us to bless others.  Even as we create a garden at the rental property, we will enjoy the blessing now with the likelihood that others will follow....

This place where we are is our home, but our permanent home for all eternity is with God.  Wherever God desires for us to be, that is where we also desire to be.

God is good.  All the time.  

Please know ~ you are so loved.  May our amazing Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you; providing for your every need today and always....